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New Nonprofit Group Aims to Help New Park in Mount Joy Township

If Lance Koons’ vision comes to fruition, the Old Trolley Line Park now taking shape along Beverly Road in Mount Joy Township will have a pavilion with a facade resembling a trolley car next summer.

Koons is the owner of the Rails to Trail Bicycle Shop on Hershey Road (Route 743), Elizabethtown, next to the Conewago Trail that runs alongside the 48-acre tract, about 21 acres of which are now being developed in the park’s first phase. Koons is starting a nonprofit called Friends of Old Trolley Line Park, which he refers to with the acronym FOOT.

Koons discussed FOOT and its plans to supplement the park’s offerings at the township supervisors meeting on Monday, May 21.

The group’s first project would be to raise $30,000 for a pavilion measuring 20 feet by 32 feet. The trolley car pavilion would have a sign with park’s name and possibly another sign saying Elizabethtown Transit.

The trolley theme is a nod to the area’s history, when Route 743 was originally a trolley line.

“Milton Hershey needed workers at the (chocolate) plant, so he actually built a trolley line from E-Town to Hershey, and the trolley car would provide the transportation,” Koons explained after the meeting. The trolley car station was located near Route 283, he added.

Koons told the supervisor sthat if the group is successful raising money for this pavilion, there are plans for a second pavilion, costing roughly the same amount, which would resemble a trolley station.

FOOT is in the process of becoming recognized as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, Koons said. It would seek donations from community members and businesses and also hold fundraisers. Koons said individuals who contribute $100 could have their names engraved on wooden boards that would be inside the trolley car pavilion; a higher amount would be charged for a business’s name on a board.

Koons said that FOOT would hold an annual event at the park celebrating the park’s history. Such an event could also serve as a fundraiser for park improvements. He said afterward that one possible addition could be a band pavilion, two or three years down the road.

He told the supervisors that the FOOT board would consist of township residents and those who own township businesses.

Koons, who has discussed his plans with the township’s parks and recreation board, asked the supervisors for a “vote of confidence” for FOOT, and they obliged. Supervisors Debra Dupler and Gerald Cole thanked Koons for his efforts.

Koons said afterward that he plans to hold music events as fundraisers using his shop’s property. He hopes to have a fall festival fundraiser in October. He said that FOOT will have a website (yet to be created) and Facebook page with fundraising information, but for now, contributions will be accepted at his shop.

In other business, Philip Rudy of White, Rudy & Co. LLP told the supervisors about the 2017 financial audit. The township budgeted $4.2 million with a deficit budget of $200,000, but the year ended in the positive by about $100,000 because real estate transfer fees, earned income tax and landfill fees came in higher than budgeted, reflecting a better economy, Rudy said. The year-end general fund balance was $2.2 million, and $4.4 million remained in debt on the new township building renovation. Overall, Rudy said, the township is “fiscally sound and in good shape.”

Supervisors also heard Deb Drury, director of Elizabethtown Public Library, speak on the importance of literacy and the library’s role in helping people build literacy skills. She said that an estimated 32 percent of Americans are functionally illiterate.

“If you don’t have literacy, is it possible to have hope?” she asked. “If you can’t have that kind of hope, how can you possibly dream?” She thanked the supervisors for their support.

Also, Supervisor Lisa Heilner reported that the regional police commission voted to purchase a portable speed monitoring sign that can be placed in areas where there are concerns about speeding.

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